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Loving What Is

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by Vajrapriya

... very reflective, objective. This can sometimes be a bit infuriating, I
think, especially for maybe more passionate people – maybe especially for women it can be a bit
infuriating (question mark!) – while other people can find it very invigorating and can really
appreciate it. It can come across a bit cool – maybe even a bit bristly. But it’s worth remembering
that the vajra is not only a symbol of reality, it is also a symbol of compassion; so there is
something very compassionate in the purity of the “mirror-like wisdom”.

So, members of the Vajra family are steady people; they are good people to have around in a fix. As
I said yesterday, they may be the sort of person who you don’t necessarily think of as a good friend
until you find that, in a particular fix, your good friends have vanished and you are left with this
steady Vajra friend.

They can be a bit poky – maybe they call a spade a spade – they can be a bit brusque; and they may
let you know if they think you are harming yourself. This is maybe something a bit like “tough
love” or what used to be called “fierce friendship” – and of course we can see the kind of dangers
that this leads towards... Akshobya is associated with the poison of hatred, so Vajra-family people
tend to be given to ill-will, irritation, criticism, judgement and hatred. These are the kinds of ways
that the mirror-like wisdom gets distorted... and I’ll be saying more about this.

The Ratna Family: Generosity Versus Pride

Let’s move on to Ratnasambhava, the Buddha in the South. Ratnasambhava means ‘Jewel-born’.
He is the head of the Jewel Family, the ‘Ratna’ family – the ‘wish-fulfilling jewel’, in fact – a
symbol of generosity. Ratnasambhava is a sunny character, a bright yellow Buddha associated with
bounty and abundance. So Ratna-people – Jewel-people – are sunny, generous, effusive people.
They tend to delight in the people around them. They appreciate the world around them; they
appreciate the people around them. Generous with praise and appreciation, they’ve got an eye for
beauty. They tend to really encourage the people that they meet.

It could all get a bit self-indulgent, maybe... could get a little bit too much, a little bit too lovey-
lovey... who knows? Chögyam Trungpa talks of the Ratna-people as being “fat” – a sort of certain
“psychic fatness”! And Ratnasambhava is also associated with the poison of pride, so maybe there
is a certain kind of pride associated with having all this to give. They can give and they can give...
and the ego can appropriate that bounty.

The Padma Family: Warmth & Love Versus Craving

Moving on to the ‘Padma’ family in the West... and Amitabha is the head of the Padma family – the
red Buddha; the ruby-red Buddha. His primary quality is love: so, normally when we think of love,
of metta, we think of Amitabha. He just seems to speak of love, of warmth, of strong emotion – so
it’s very easy to think of metta in these terms: strong emotion, radiating.

Padma people are not only very warm but very attractive; it’s really lovely to be around Padma
people because you can sort of just get off on all this warmth they’re giving you! You know that
they want to be with you; this is the great thing about Padma people – you don’t have to wonder
about it, as you do with a Vajra person – with a Padma person you know they like you, and that’s
great! That’s just great.

But... it can get a little bit engulfing, a little bit attached... and Amitabha is associated with the
poison of craving. So this is the flip-side of this strong warmth, is that it can get a bit attached: the
ego likes this and it wants more and it wants more... and maybe Padma people get a little bit
attached by what they want in this other person. They’re giving all this love but actually maybe they
want quite a bit from them as well, and maybe when they don’t get what they want, then maybe
things change...?

The Karma Family: Action versus Envy & Busy-ness

So, moving on to the North, we’ve got Amoghasiddhi, the Green Buddha of the North. He is the
head of the ‘Karma’ family, the action-family, whose emblem is the double-vajra. So he has the
energy, the accomplishment – his name means the ‘accomplishment that isn’t obstructed’.
Somehow he knows exactly how to cleave through reality to bring about the most beneficial results
for everything around him. So Karma-family people are very responsive. They see what is needed,
and they act. This is a way that love can express itself simply through action, simply through
responding to the situation.

I’ll tell you a story of one New Year that I spent with my partner. At the time, we didn’t see much
of each other, and we had, I think, about five days down on the South coast over New Year, and this
was much looked forward to. And on the drive down, she got iller and iller and iller... and then we
arrived there and she just crashed out with flu, and she stayed that way for the full five days; and
she felt terribly guilty about this – you know – “Our wonderful holiday!”; “Oh, what a shame.”

...And actually I loved it! – in a funny sort of way, I loved it – because I knew exactly what I
needed to do; I just needed to look after her. I didn’t have to decide “where are we going to go
today and what are we going to do, and what are we going to eat, and where are we going to eat?”
and all these sorts of things that actually get me a little bit kind of anxious and edgy. All I had to do
was make the food and look after her and read when she was asleep; it was very simple.

I always personally feel happier when I know what I can do to help. I do some voluntary work at a
hospice, and so I’m surrounded by all this suffering, by all this pain: people in the most appalling
states of physical discomfort and psychological pain – the most appalling things that can happen to
the body – I didn’t realize! And I can’t really do very much... but I can make them a cup of tea; and
I can sit and chat, if that’s what they want.

...So, this is the ‘Karma-family’. So what is the danger of the Karma-family? Well, maybe the
danger of love expressed in this way is it can get a bit busy; it can get a bit too focused on doing
things for people; sorting things out; making sure everything’s just so; and not quite noticing that
these objects that you’re tending to are actually people. It can get a little bit too superficially,
objectively focused on people as objects rather than as living human beings.

Also, Amoghasiddhi is associated with the poison of envy. So people who are quite focused on
accomplishments, focused on activity, focused on having effects out there in the world... the ego
can appropriate that and start trying to size up: “how am I doing in relation to other people’s
achievements in the world?”

The Buddha Family: Spaciousness Versus Spaciness

And then to the central Buddha, Vairocana. Vairocana is the White Buddha and, in a way, his
qualities encompass all the other ones. He is the central, defining figure of this particular Mandala.
But he does have some particular characteristics. He is head of the ‘Buddha’ family, so he is a
central principle – he encompasses all the others – and so there is a sense of spaciousness, of all-
encompassing.

So, Buddha-family people tend to be very spacious people – very accommodating; un-reactive.
They sort of don’t, somehow... (it’s a bit curious to me)... they somehow don’t feel they have to get
into judgements about things; they don’t have to come down on one side or the other. And because
of this they can have a kind of pacifying effect on the people around them. Even if people around
them are caught up in strong feelings or strong conflicts – internal conflicts or external conflicts –
the accommodating spaciousness of a Buddha-family person can somehow just hold all this
together and pacify the situation. They may be quite contemplative people.

The tendency, the possible danger, of the Buddha-family people is maybe a bit more ‘spaciness’
than ‘spaciousness’. Vairocana is associated with the poison of ignorance, so Buddha-family people
can maybe be a bit kind of vague. People like myself can call them ‘flakey’ because they seem so
open to anything – they just don’t seem to want to make any kind of critical decision about
anything!

I was in a taxi on the way up here and I was talking to the cab-driver, a really interesting guy who
was telling me all about his spiritual experiences! And it was just great because there was this kind
of sense within me that I wanted to decide whether he was a complete flake, whether he was lying,
or whether it was all true. He was telling me about seeing people’s past lives side-by-side like a sort
of movie-screen alongside people; seeing lights on people’s bodies depending on where their
illnesses are; and having spirits inhabiting him and going away again; and it was this fantastic
conversation... and for once I could sit there and ...

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